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“Interesting but a little boring reading all the info...no docents or guides.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of National Firearms Museum

National Firearms Museum
11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA
703-267-1600
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Ranked #1 of 17 Attractions in Fairfax
Type: History Museums, Specialty Museums
Activities: Group tours/train
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Attraction Details
Owner description: Small museum that highlights the long history of firearms.
Surprise, Arizona
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Interesting but a little boring reading all the info...no docents or guides.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2013

The museum has several galleries with lots of weapons. I found it interesting, but because many of the displays had lots of reading, it was kind of tedious. The displays were very elaborate with lots of mirrors so you could see the front, side and back of the gun. My husband and I both enjoyed the Marine Corp Museum more than the National Firearms Museum.

There is a cafeteria that served mediocre food.

Visited June 2013
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127 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Mahomet, Illinois
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
20 attraction reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Very nicely done”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

I did not expect to enjoy this visit, my husband is the one with interest in antique firearms, but it was so well done and included weapons used in movies that I liked.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
432 reviews 432 reviews
178 attraction reviews
Reviews in 116 cities Reviews in 116 cities
259 helpful votes 259 helpful votes
““We fight to be free” – George Washington, before the Christmas Crossing of the Potomac”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2013

Even if you are not particularly interested in guns, you will find this a very educational and entertaining experience. Shooting sports fans would be able to see stories of fabulous great names in gun making and their products. Movies lovers will find the Hollywood Guns gallery where props – costumes and guns – are galore: from John Wayne’s True Grit gun through Alamo’s Gatling, to Dirty Harry’s “Make my day” monster and Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I. memorabilia, it’s all there!

Plan to spend a couple of hours, it’s very entertaining. Imagine that you can see Annie Oakley’s pearly-handled revolvers and even an authentic fully restored shooting gallery from the old days, complete with ducks and carnival music. Photography is permitted throughout.
Last, but not least, it’s all free, as are most museums in D.C.

Visited May 2013
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Fairfax, Virginia
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Educational and Worth the Trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2013

When I visited I knew nothing about the history of firearms (and had never shot a gun) and was pleasantly surprised by the education I received while at the Museum. It was worth the trip into the NRA and I would recommend it for anyone who is curious - it's a hidden gem in Fairfax.

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairfax, Virginia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Hidden historical gem in Fairfax”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

We have been to this NRA museum three times and never found it crowded (even on a Saturday late afternoon). Few of our acquaintances seem to know of it, and we LIVE in Fairfax! Don't be intimidated by the voice box at the locked door or the somber guard at the desk--they need to take precautions, and after signing a waiver we had freedom to take photos and roam with self-guided tour maps as long as we liked. There is a donation box near the exit, and some membership literature, but no employees around to pressure you to join.

We recently took five 10-year-old boys along with our family to the museum as a unique (and cheap!) birthday party outing. The media was full of hype about gun control debates at the time--this trip seemed an appropriate way to present the craftsmanship and proper use of guns, and the NRA's commitment to training and safety. We called ahead about possible guided tours for youth, which they unfortunately don't offer, but the woman answering kindly gave a few suggestions about which collections might be of most interest to young boys. Our own kids (ages 7-15) showed better attention span, but we had a happy hour-plus roaming from case to case, trying to mention tidbits to the boys about the time periods and uses of what they were seeing.

Hunting for the oldest (only surviving Mayflower gun) and finding Luke Skywalker's light saber prop kept them busy. Two of our guests showed interest in modern military weaponry (think they have relatives in service) but the biggest hit seemed to be the antique miniature guns with various tiny knives, axes, and crossbows attached to the barrel for back-up protection in case of assault. The boys also liked the touch screen computers where they could look up descriptions of individual firearms (they didn't spend long reading the items--mostly wanting a turn to scroll through!). We adults were surprised they didn't think much of the Coney Island arcade (probably shows our age that we have actually shot rifles at such galleries) or the boy's cowboy-themed bedroom (Roy Rogers' bygone era).

Most patrons smiled at our little active band, but in hindsight we might have saved this trip for a 12+ age group who might better appreciate the chronological layout and actually read some of the fascinating history. The gift shop was a draw with many trinkets and books (a tight space, particularly difficult for controlling children who want to touch everything)--and had a patient cashier! We have never seen the cafe or the shooting range, but know some post college-age brothers who enjoy their membership.

One suggestion for improvement would be to have a docent or two available to point out highlights and answer questions. We surely miss many treasures that are right under our noses. We'd be willing to pay a buck or two admission if they decided to add staff as guides.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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